He’s been stroppy all week. My sweet, funny, cuddly monkey has been belligerent and angry. Complaining and grumbling. Crying at the drop of a hat. After three weeks off of school and a two week visit with some of his favorites in the world he had dropped the belligerence. Sleeping until late. Laughing. Snuggling. Playing gnomes and fairies. Noticing. He’s a noticer. But it had been a while. Even his older brothers have remarked lately that he’s just not himself. “He’s never away with the fairies any more, Mom. I think the fairies miss him. I miss him too, actually.”
I ask myself so often if it’s the school. Is it just not the place for him? He told me last week as he sobbed and clung to me at drop off, “But mama you don’t understand. There’s just no magic in this place.” A couple of folks have suggested he’s “got my number.” Maybe so. But there’s truth in what he says. I don’t reckon it’s manipulation as much as true grief for a world that was.
I ask myself if it’s the environment? He swam in the sea when it was so cold even the oldie “polar bears” who love to swim in cold water thought he was crazy. I had to start carrying a towel even in the dead of winter. If we were at the sea—which was every single day—he was in it. In underwear. In the buff. In his clothes. Didn’t matter. He wanted in. I miss the ocean like I miss people. With a longing and a loneliness I can’t put words to. Even when I try. What must it be like for him? Well over half his life was spent at the sea. It must be torture to be in this dry, brown suburb.
I do my best. We draw. We read and read. I talk to him about fairies. I try to let him take his time. Magic, after all, cannot be rushed. I take deep breaths and reach for the lessons I learned my last year with him in Oz. To slow down. To see “distraction” as beauty—whether it’s a tiny bug or a gorgeous flower or the world’s best stick. To release expectation. To stick to a solid rhythm, but to let things flow within that. Breathe out. Breathe in. Still…school starts at 9:01 here and there’s no changing that no matter how many great sticks are along the way.
After an uncharacteristically hateful remark about breakfast, “No! I DO want breakfast! I want a GOOD breakfast. One that I LIKE!” I suggested he head to his room and get dressed. That I’d leave the breakfast on the table and he could eat it or not. Up to him. Then requested that he perhaps not come out of his room until he was ready to talk with a little more kindness. So when he yelled at me from his room, “Mom!!! Come here!!!” I didn’t really want to come here. I wanted a second to breathe and rest and choose to talk to him with a little more kindness as well. “Hurry! Quick!” and there was something in his voice…something familiar, but forgotten. Was it wonder?
“Look! A robin!” It took me a few minutes to spot the robin through the blinds, but there he was. Then we spotted another. Still another bird. Hidden in shades of greys and browns, but with one little bright red patch below his beak. He named them all of course. Then named the tree outside his window the “gathering tree.” Then he got dressed. Ate his breakfast with no stropping. And though it took him ages to get his coat, and he did ask once more if he HAD to go to school we walked along in a state of magic. We noticed things. Even though we had to hurry a bit. He clung to me after the bell, but he didn’t cry.
Sprinklings. Sprinklings of magic. That’s all I’m after. I figured they must be here somewhere. Today, they were.